WVU School of Dentistry to ‘Give Kids a Smile’

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Free children’s dental exams to be offered Feb. 14

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University School of Dentistry will celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month by offering free examinations, appropriate X-rays, and fluoride treatments to children ages one to 17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 14 in the WVU Pediatric Dentistry Clinic.

The appointments are part of the annual “Give Kids a Smile!” national dental access program of the American Dental Association and the West Virginia Dental Association. WVU dental and dental hygiene students will perform the care under the supervision of the faculty. Appointments are required, and space is limited. To schedule an appointment for the free exam, call 304-293-0401.

Jennifer Hill, D.D.S., Ph.D., is the School of Dentistry’s new chair of pediatric dentistry. She was active in Give Kids a Smile in her previous positions at the University of Texas in Houston and at Georgia Regents University in Augusta, Ga., and this year will volunteer in WVU’s 11th event.

“Give Kids a Smile is a strong tradition among pediatric dental programs. It involves the community, and it shows the dental students here at WVU what fun you can have when you get a whole bunch of kids together and do prevention programs, clean teeth, and teach children how to ease into the dental experience,” Dr. Hill said.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children see a dentist after they get their first baby tooth and no later than their first birthday. An early visit enables a dentist to determine the child’s risk of cavities so that preventive action can be taken before the first cavity appears.

“West Virginia has the highest number of adults who have no teeth,” Hill said. Oral health habits in early childhood can strongly affect oral health in adult life, she added, “so there’s a great need for prevention and for exposure to the field of dentistry and its overall health benefits for West Virginia families.”

The clinic expects to see 15 children every 45 minutes for a total of 135 patients throughout the day. Participants in past years have ranged from existing patients to children who have never seen a dentist. Children of all needs and levels of care are welcome at the clinic.

Hill suggests that, in addition to scheduling dental exams, such as those offered through Give Kids a Smile, parents can care for their children’s oral health by controlling the intake of sweets, especially sugared drinks and juices, and by exposing their children to fluoride through toothpaste and tap water.

“Give Kids a Smile is a nationally recognized day in dentistry where the profession places the oral health needs of children first. At the WVU School of Dentistry, we are proud to open our clinics and provide services to children on this day,” David Felton D.D.S., M.S., dean of the School of Dentistry, said. “We encourage families in the Mon County region to bring their kids to WVU and see first-hand all the dental services we have to offer to children of all ages.”

For more information on the WVU School of Dentistry, visit www.hsc.wvu.edu/sod.

For more information: Angela Jones-Knopf, News Service Coordinator, 304-293-7087
sf: 01-24-14